Don’t Be Ginger with the Ginger – Getting To Know Ginger
Ginger is used in a number of different cuisines, particularly dishes from India and throughout much of Asia. Also this root has been used for centuries, and it has made significant inroads into Western cuisine thanks to its amazing taste, but also to its myriad health benefits. It’s been dubbed a “superfood” for many good reasons.
What Is Ginger?
What we call ginger is actually the root, or underground stem (rhizome), of a plant. And it is native to India, China and Japan, and is actually part of the same family as turmeric. It can be sliced, chopped, ground, powdered and juiced depending on the use intended (food, beverages or for medicinal needs). It’s hot, spicy, aromatic qualities make it a prime addition to any number of different dishes and beverages. It is also used for a number of health problems.
Why Use Ginger?
Ginger is used primarily for flavouring dishes and even beverages. You can use it to make tea, as a flavouring for sodas (particularly home-made or “craft” sodas) and more without the need to add other ingredients, particularly sodium. And, because a little bit of this root packs a big punch, you can use it without adding a lot of calories to a dish. Furthermore, it can also be used for health purposes. In fact, it has a number of both historical uses and those that are only now beginning to be understood. Ginger can be used to treat:
- Nausea, including morning sickness and motion sickness
- Loss of appetite
- Arthritis pain (including rheumatoid arthritis)
- Stomach pain
- Swelling (applied externally)
While fresh ginger is not known for causing side effects, some people do report that it increases the incidence of acid reflux for them.
Ginger’s Nutritional Makeup
It’s important to understand that because a small amount is used in dishes and beverages, it generally imparts little in the way of calories, protein or carbohydrates. However, it is also important to know more about the root’s nutritional makeup. It is a good source of the following:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Per 100 grams, ginger also offers 17.77 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fibre, 1.82 grams of protein and 1.7 grams of sugar. With it only containing 13 mg of sodium.
Ginger in Foods and Beverages
While ginger can be consumed on its own either for the taste or for a medical purpose, it is generally added to liquids and foods. It pairs very well with a number of different food types, including citrus fruits and seafood. It is also good with pork dishes, with apples and much more. Also the root works particularly well in smoothies, especially those with citrus fruits incorporated, as well as in stir-fry dishes, in apple-based beverages and in fish dishes.
It is always recommended that fresh ginger be used, as this allows you complete control over its use and ensures there are no fillers or binders used. When choosing ginger, look for roots that are smooth and wrinkle-free. Due to the root ageing, it begins to lose moisture, which shows as wrinkled skin on the outside of the root. Choose unwrinkled, smooth, firm roots that have little flexibility (bendable roots are usually dry and lack flavour). Also the aroma should be spicy, or “hot”.
Ground ginger is used in many dishes. If you choose to purchase pre-ground ginger rather than grinding your own, buy from a trusted brand. Also the general equation is one-eighth of a teaspoon ground for every one tablespoon freshly grated.